Notes of a Beer Nerd: Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.’s Saison Athene
***This was originally published on 1/1/2010. But with it being summer, and with St. Somewhere finally distributing to Seattle – its time to whet your appetite for a damn tasty saison.***
Enjoyed on 12/23/2009
Brewery: Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.
Location: Tarpon Springs, FL
Beer: Saison Athene
Presentation: 750 ML – Brown Glass Bottle, corked and caged
Style: Belgian Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Recommended Serving Temp: 50 degrees
Notes from the bottle: Saison Athene is brewed in the spirit of the great farmhouse ales of the Wellonia, a region of Belgium near the French border. Saison translates to “season” and was traditionally brewed in the winter, to be enjoyed in the summer. Saison Athene is brewed in Florida, the land of the endless summer, and can be enjoyed year-round. Spicy, rustic, refreshingly hoppy, a little wild and funky with a dry finish, Athene is hand crafted with attention to the Art of Brewing using only the finest ingredients. Unfiltered and bottle conditioned, Athene can be cellared like a fine wine. The flavor and aroma will continue to develop and change for several years, but why wait? Take one to enjoy now and another to save for a special occasion.
Food Pairings: Thai, sausage, hot summer picnic food
Cheese Pairings: Camembert, asiago, gorgonzola
Beer Advocate: B+
Rate Beer: 90 (3.56)
Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. is the latest addition to the long list of breweries that have added Washington State to their distributorship this year. I hadn’t ever heard of this one before I saw it at 99 Bottles in Federal Way and co-owner Tiffany expressed her excitement about its arrival. She had apparently been asking her distributor to carry it for some time, and alas, it arrived. I’d like to thoroughly thank her for her efforts. This is an amazing saison.
Saint Somewhere is a small batch craft brewery that produces bottle-conditioned, un-filtered Belgian-style ales. They only brew with Belgian malts and whole leaf, noble hops. Along with the use of their own Belgian yeast strain, they use their own dark candi sugar and inject a dose of Brettanomyces yeast at bottling.
As of now it appears as though they only bottle 3 different brews: Saison Athene (Belgian Saison/Farmhouse Ale, found here), Lectio Divina (Belgian Strong Pale Ale, review coming soon), and their newest, Pays du Soleil (Belgian Dubbel, not available in WA, that I know of). The brewery website says they only distribute to FL, NY, PA, and MA.
Saison is the French word for “season” and is a beer style, sometimes called a Farmhouse Ale, that was developed in the French speaking region of Belgium. Traditionally, they were brewed in the winter months for the farm workers to enjoy in late summer, read: harvest season. It’s clearly winter in North America, and us here at Beer Blotter have been doing our best to bring the winter/Christmas beers to the forefront, but sometimes…It’s really fun to get into a beer from/for the opposite season and fantasize about the exciting elements that define the season furthest from us. Before moving on I’d like to briefly return to the idea of brewing a special beer for the farm workers. Now I realize that the advent of water treatment has rendered this concept defunct, but man do I wish my boss would feed me this brew (or any beer at all for that matter) on the busiest days of the year. I’d work like a damn dog!
She pours a cloudy gold that’s just so inviting and bright. Strong carbonation for sure. A beast of a voluminous, rocky head rises on the pour and leaves thick blobs on the glass. It’s slow to subside and never really completely dissipates. Bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass for quite a bit, fooling the eye into seeing chunky, bottle-conditioning yeast. Though this is indeed bottle-conditioned and a layer of white sludge can easily be seen on the bottom of the bottle, there doesn’t seem to be any loose yeast settling in my glass. Never-the-less, the fluid has poor clarity…chalked full of flavor.
According to the ratebeer.com page, this one was brewed with chamomile, fresh rosemary and black pepper. How on Earth does the website not say that?! The pepper was evident before I read that, and now that chamomile flowers are on the mind I can pick them up, but rosemary, not catching it. I am getting a lot of clove, cinnamon, green apple, earthy hay, and a little funk from the Brett. Actually, that cinnamon aroma is quite relevant, and perplexing. Slightly medicinal. Really, really inviting scent.
The flavors, for the most part, match the scent, which is epic (not sure if I mentioned that). The carbonation makes the flavors pop and the funky Brett adds to the complexity without being overbearing. The aftertaste is dry, but fills me with ideas of what I’m tasting and urges me to take another swig. Hops present a lot of citrus, mostly lemon, a drizzle of pineapple juice, but all-in-all, an acidity that dances with the funk and makes me giddy for more. I would venture to say this is the best saison I have ever had, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I bought it. Needless to say, I will be buying more of this one, not only to enjoy it again in all its glory, but to support the brewery’s decision to ship to WA (or the distributor’s decision to acquire it).
I now must plead to you. Try this beer, soon. And if you like it, keep buying it so that we show FL that WA knows and loves great craft brewing, and hopefully we will then be able to get any and every beer that Saint Somewhere ever makes, and our lives will be better for it.
If you like Saison Athene, you should try…